By Tony Harber MORLEY has its very own contender for Christmas number one with comedian Leigh Francis – aka Avid Merrion and Bo Selecta – taking on the big boys in the hottest chart race of the year.
The race to be top of the pops over the festive period always attracts huge interest and this year looks like being one of the most competitive for ages with light hearted records going up against charity singalongs, chart favourites and rock acts. And then of course there is the Cliff Richard factor.
Avid Merrion makes his bid with a little number called Proper Chrimbo and he can lay claim to releasing probably the coolest record of the bunch.
With a funny – and not a little controversial – video to accompany the single, he is sure to arouse plenty of attention. He ropes in John Leslie and sends up Michael Jackson's Thriller and if this promo gets plenty of air time the Morley man should have a big hit on his hands.
Competition for that top spot could come in the shape of another comedy record with the release of Christmas Is All Around. Taken from smash hit film Love Actually, this song is performed by Billy Mac, aka actor Bill Nighy in his scene-stealing hilarious role as a washed up old rock star in the movie.
With the film doing big business, the record is certain to have a big push and everyone knows the tune anyway as it's a re-working of the Love Is All Around record that was such a big hit for Wet Wet Wet.
More novelty records on release include efforts by The Cheeky Girls and Fast Food Rockers, but the early favourite for number one is a single involving all 12 of the Pop Idol finalists.
The singers have joined forces for a cover version of John Lennon's classic Happy Xmas (War Is Over) and this type of record has traditionally done well ever since Band Aid in the 1980s. There's no chance, though, of this bunch of over-hyped karaoke singers bettering the original, always one of the classier Christmas songs around.
Another cover version aiming to do big business comes from Blue with their rendition of Signed, Sealed, Delivered. At least they've got Stevie Wonder to guest with them in at attempt to add credibility, but Stevie's original will always remain the daddy in this contest.
As covers go, a better bet sounds the pared down version of the old Tears For Fears number, Mad World. Yes it's by the previously unknown Gary Jules, but it has been picking up a lot of radio plays across all the stations.
The pop world is further represented by the Sugababes' latest release, Too Lost In You, which aims to keep up their strong recent track record and the rock world gets in on the act this year with efforts from the Osbournes and The Darkness.
Father and daughter Ozzy and Kelly Osbourne have teamed up for a duet. It's no Something Stupid, however, as it turns out to be a cover of an old Black Sabbath number, Changes, and although it's already made it to number one it will have difficulty holding on for the big week.
The Darkness, meanwhile, continue their bid to make everyone think it's 1973 again as they "do a Slade" with their Christmas Time (When Will The Bells End?) song. Glam rock, complete with a children's choir, this has to be the cheesiest of the festive releases and might just be the one the public gets behind.
The public, of course, have always taken Sir Cliff Richard to heart and with a Christmas track record second to none he cannot be ruled out of contention with a new song titled Santa's List.
Just who will be top of the list this year will be revealed in the big chart rundown on Sunday.